The Troll King Has All the Answers!

Last week, Bill Simonson’s delusions of grandeur made me speculate that this might become a weekly feature at DNR. Looks like I was right.

This week, Bill has all the answers for the Tigers to EASILY win the AL Central this year. Or does he? What kind of wisdom does the Mighty Troll King have for us now?

Read on to find out.




I love that the Detroit Tigers are in first place in the American League Central Division at the All-Star break.

Me, too. Just goes to show that your constant criticism of the team is complete bullshit so far.

What we can’t forget is they were basically in the same position a year ago and were out of the race before the end of July. We have watched Detroit self implode in the second half of every season since 2006.

This is one of those things that just keeps getting repeated over and over until everyone has assumed that it is true. But it isn’t. The MLB season is 162 games long. Here’s how the Tigers have done in their second 81 games since 2006.

2006: 40-41
2007: 41-40
2008: 33-48
2009: 41-40
2010: 37-44

So if you take out the last place season of 2008 and the “Down goes Magglio!” year of 2010, the team’s been around .500 the other Leyland years. Is that great? No. But is it “self imploding” every season? I think not.

It has been so frustrating to watch Tigers teams loaded with payroll and talent find a way to flip their season switch off after the All-Star break five years in a row (2008 really doesn’t count because the team stunk it up all year long; in 2006, they fell apart and limped into the playoffs as the wild card).

Enough with the payroll talk, please. When much of your payroll is tied up in guys like Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis, and people of their ilk, the payroll issue becomes moot.

Also, this year, the Tigers rank third in their own DIVISION in payroll. So please never mention it again.

If manager Jim Leyland is willing to listen, I have all the answers to ensure he doesn’t manage a second-half slide again:

I would pay a fortune to hear Jim Leyland’s reaction to reading HUGE’s suggestions. Oh, that would be glorious.

1. Put Brandon Inge on the bench and make Don Kelly the everyday third baseman

Holy shit. Bill has decided to share his wisdom on getting the Tigers into the playoffs and his number one idea is that Brandon Inge is struggling and should be sat? Good lord! How did the rest of us, including Jim Leyland, all miss this! Praise Allah for the existence of Bill Simonson!

And the idea that Don Kelly, he of the career OPS+ of 74, is the answer at third base? You should be locked away in a mental institution, Bill.

Inge has lost bat speed and has become a liability on defense. Kelly has earned the right to be starting at third.

How exactly has Kelly EARNED a starting job, Bill? By hitting .245 this year? Is it his .297 OBP that has caught your keen eye for talent? Perhaps it’s his OPS+ 17 points BELOW the average player that has EARNED Kelly a starting job.

Don Kelly sucks. All he’s done this year is be less pathetic than Inge has.

Inge’s lofty salary may keep him on the lineup card, but if the Tigers don’t do something with Inge soon, All-Star catcher Alex Avila or anyone in front of Inge will see no pitches to hit.

Yeah. It’s really killed Avila’s numbers so far.

/rolls eyes

I know Inge is a fan favorite for his loyalty to the organization,

Really? That’s why you think the fans love Inge? I always assumed it was a combination of his overrated defensive ability, his goofy smile, and the fact he hangs out with sick children more than he does his own.

but I believe he understands there are better options for this team than him at third base every day.

Not much better.

Watching the Tigers struggle with run support for pitcher Justin Verlander the past two starts is a warning sign the lineup card needs its best nine out there every game, and Inge is not in that group.

BEST NINE! BEST NINE! BEST NINE!

Fuck.

Yes. It has nothing to do with Dan Haren being amazing for the Angels last week. Also, Jeff Francis isn’t the kind of soft-tossing guy that gives the team trouble. No. Francis, in fact, was walking the ball up to the plate and placing the ball on a tee. Inge somehow came up every inning and made all three outs.

If an established starting shortstop is there for the taking at the trade deadline, I would make that deal and move Jhonny Peralta to third. That would solve the Inge problem.

Never mind looking for an actual third baseman. Get a shortstop and move our All-Star shortstop to third.

Never mind that Inge is eating up $11 million in total payroll through 2012, just add another top of the line player.

No, we should get an established shortstop IF HE EXISTS. We should also get the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy. What? They don’t exist, either? Well, Don Kelly, then.

Problem solved. NEXT.

2. Charlie Furbush is not ready to be a major league starting pitcher

Two starts? Seen enough! The HUGE Troll King is not impressed!

The rotation needs a fresh arm right after the All-Star break. Andy Oliver and minor league phenom Jacob Turner could be possible starters.

Oh, Furbush didn’t do it for you, but Andy Oliver does? In seven career MLB starts Oliver has a 0-5 record with a 7.11 ERA. With the Hens this year in Triple-A, he’s 6-6 with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. This is your answer? At least Furbush looked good in relief and decent in his first start before KC teed off on him.

And Turner? Really? That’s your other answer? The kid that hasn’t pitched above Double A? You want to count on him?

Christ, just say “acquire Wandy Rodriguez from Houston”. At least that might actually work.

The best option here would be picking up a fifth starter before the trading deadline at the end of the month.

Oh. So you were kidding about Oliver and Turner? Cool. Who are possible starters we could acquire? And no fair saying Wandy! That one's mine...

Moving on already? Fuck.

3. Understand that Ryan Raburn is a platoon guy -- play him when he is hitting and bench him when he struggles

“Get three hits or you’re benched, son.”

How can you tell if he’s ready to play again if he doesn’t get a hit? I’m confused.

The guy is too inconsistent at the plate and in the field to be in your everyday lineup.

Indeed. When you have perennial batting champs like Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago to take his place…oh yeah. We have NO BETTER OPTIONS.

Carlos Guillen is close to coming back from an injury to play second base. His veteran presence and bat, if he can stay healthy, will be a huge plus for the Tigers in the second half.

“If he can stay healthy”. Will Guillen hurt himself again, you think? Think it’ll ever rain again? Think it’ll be cold this winter? Think next week’s Simonson article will be awful?

It will interesting to see who the odd man out is with the Tigers.

That’s easy. It’ll be Casper. They don’t’ need two righties on the bench. Raburn makes too much money and has the better track record.

Raburn would be sent down if I made the call.

Sigh.

Andy Dirks and Casper Wells have surprised me with their ability to deliver key hits.

Dirks with men on base: .239 average
Wells with men on base: .217

Define “key hit” to me. Better yet, don’t. I’m annoyed enough with you.

Both have speed, which is a plus on the bases and in the field.

Dirks: 40 career games: 3 stolen bases, caught twice
Wells: 97 career games, 1 stolen base, caught once

I think Rickey Henderson’s records are safe for now.

I think Dirks and Wells deserve to stay with the big club. Raburn has more bad days than good ones.

Except for the grand slam against Chicago. And the diving catch last week that saved the game against San Francisco. And also 2010 when he put up an OPS+ of 121 for the entire year. And 2009 when his OPS+ was 130. Fuck all that.

Also, did you notice how with the second half of the season kicking in, Raburn appears to be coming around at the plate? In his last 10 games, Ryno’s average has ticked up 6 points, he’s hit 2 homers, and his OPS is up 17 points.

I know. No one cares but me. You sheep have made your choice.

4. Call a news conference and apologize to your former pitching coach Rick Knapp and tell him and the world he never was the problem with the Tigers

/record scratch

Huh? What?

Your list is supposed to be “five things the Tigers must do to stay in first place”. How in the name of Ty Cobb’s hairy balls does kissing the terminated Rick Knapp’s ass help the Tigers stay in first?

Jesus Christ, you’re a dumb shit.

Detroit never said a nice word about him publicly the past three years and, outside of a fifth starter and a high staff ERA caused by a week of bad baseball, the arms on its roster are pretty darn solid.

Look, I get that Knapp came on your radio show and you feel the need to suck his dick now, but don’t flat out lie AGAIN, you asshat.

The Tigers have allowed 9 or more runs 13 different times this year already. The bullpen’s ERA is the second worst in the AL. And just the fifth starter? Scherzer’s an inconsistent mess. Porcello is still not developing. Penny is decent/horrible depending on which Hollywood tramp he’s banging that day.

Did Knapp deserve to be canned? I don’t know. But don’t pretend the staff was performing like the Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine/Avery Braves staffs of the ‘90’s, okay?

Explain to all of us how Knapp was the problem in Detroit.

I just did. The pitching outside of Verlander and Valverde has been an abortion.

He is a class act.

He probably is. You know who else is? Brandon Inge. And you want his ass carrying around Don Fucking Kelly’s bags. You can’t have it both ways, fucktard.

You should clear your conscience for selling out a guy who wasn’t in your inner circle to get one of your guys, Jeff Jones, in so your coaching staff is made up of all your buddies and you control everything.

Jeff Jones? They guy they fired along with Chuck Hernandez years ago? The guy that was there before Leyland and his Pittsburgh Posse?  Is his act not classy enough for your taste?

If you are the loyal man people say you are, admit you were dead wrong on using Knapp as your midseason report card fall guy.

Yes, then and ONLY THEN, will you be able to hold onto the AL Central lead.

This man gets paid to offer his opinions on sports, people.

5. Play the best nine five days a week

/bang head against wall for ten minutes

Give a team loaded with All-Stars a chance to separate themselves from the pack in the AL Central.

Indeed. Quit benching Miguel Cabrera five times a week.

No team in the division has four quality starters and a lights-out back end of the bullpen like they do in Detroit.

Except Chicago.

Throw in the All-Star hitters that pepper the top half of the lineup

Jackson? Kelly?

and outstanding young talent the Tigers have, and make this second half one to remember for the team and fans.

Um, keep doing what you’re doing? I’m lost.

Live up to the promise you made after Magglio Ordonez came back that you would play "the guys who give you the best chance to win."

Didn’t Maggs promise the team that his ankle was fine? You know I love Maggs, but…

You do this and you could end up manager of the year.

You know, like Leyland has already done THREE times. I think he might know more about managing than Bill Simonson.

If you don’t do it and miss the playoffs, you probably are out of a job.

Depends. If Cabrera dies in a bizarre gardening accident, Leyland might get a pass.

Like I said, I’m glad the Tigers are in first place right now, but they still have some holes to fill and work left to be there at the end.

Wow. It’s almost like there’s an entire second half left. And methinks it’s going to be more what Dave Dombrowski does than what Jim Leyland does.

Why do you always shit on Leyland and never mention Dombrowski?

Leyland's blind loyalty

Rick Knapp.

and over-thinking, second-half track record in Detroit

That’s wildly over-exaggerated.

scares me away from really believing long term in this team right now. I hope Leyland proves me wrong.

Bill, for three weeks straight, I’ve proved your wrong. I don’t’ see what good it’s going to do if Leyland does it.

And when he does, I’m sure you’ll just ignore it anyway.